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Epyx

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Originally founded in 1978 by Jon Freeman and Jim Connelley as Automated Simulations, and 1981 changed name to Epyx. Initially the company was known for its strategy games, hence the motto "Computer games thinkers play" fit into its profile. Epyx (then Automated Simulations) was founded in 1978 as a vehicle for publishing Freeman and Connelley's first game in BASIC, Starfleet Orion for the Commodore PET. Their company quickly started developing games for other popular home computer ranges of the era, such as the Apple II family, the TRS-80 series, the Atari 400/800 and the Commodore 64.

Among Epyx' best known titles are the Summer Games and Winter Games series (later also including California Games and World Games), the Temple of Apshai games, Jumpman, Impossible Mission, and the "Computer Activity Toys" licenses of Hot Wheels, GI Joe and Barbie.

Epyx also developed a handheld game system called the Handy. Unable to continue due to high costs, it was sold to Atari. Atari then renamed and sold it as the Atari Lynx.

In 1983, new ownership took over the company, and got involved with action games, this brought Jon Freeman to leave and found Free Fall Associates with his wife Anne Westfall, and Jim Conelly left as well.

In 1987, Epyx faced an important infringement lawsuit from Data East USA regarding the Epyx's Commodore 64 game World Karate Championship. Data East thought the whole game, and particurarily the referee in it, looked too much like its 1984 arcade game Karate Champ. Data East won the lawsuit and 9th Circuit US District Court Judge William Ingram ordered Epyx to recall all copies of World Karate Championship from store shelves. But Epyx appealed the case to the US Federal Court, who reversed the judgement and ruled in favor of Epyx, stating that copyright protection did not extend to the idea of a Karate game, but specific artistic choices not dicated by that idea. The court noted that a "17.5 year-old boy" could see clear differences between the elements of each game actually subject to copyright.

Epyx was best known for its sports games developed after the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984, it expanded into many different olympic games and other sport games.

In 1985, they moved their headquarters to Redwood City, California, and grew to 200 employees.

Epyx started developing hardware, such as the Commodore 64 fast load cartridge. Epyx expanded into every aspect involved in games and the games hardware. All these avenues were unsuccessful and the company had to file in chapter 11 of bankruptcy in 1989. They eventually sold the Lynx console rights to Atari in 1991 which brought them out of their debts. However, with only 8 employees left working at Epyx they decided to sell the developing rights.

In 1989, Epyx filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to Stephen Landrum, a long-time programmer at Epyx, the company went bankrupt "because it never really understood why it had been successful in the past, and then decided to branch out in a lot of directions, all of which turned out to be failures.

At this time, they moved to a smaller office in downtown San Francisco and laid off nearly everyone. Epyx still developed games, but gave up their publishing rights and all the rights to the handheld game console they were developing to Atari (the company they owed most of the money to), eventually becoming the Atari Lynx. Epyx eventually came out of bankruptcy, but in 1993, with 8 employees left, they decided just to sell the rest of the company off.

The company was bought by Bridgestone media group, a Christian organization. Only Peter Engelbrite went to that company, all other staff went elsewhere.

In 2006, British publisher System 3 announced it has acquired Epyx's assets to release games such as California Games, The Last Ninja and Impossible Mission for Nintendo DS, Sony PSP and Wii in 2007.


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